MAC East foes will square off on Saturday afternoon when the Ohio Bobcats visit the Buffalo Bulls. Ohio is off to a tough 1-5 (1-1 MAC) start this season after dropping a 30-27 heartbreaker to the Central Michigan Chippewas as a five-point home underdog last weekend. Buffalo is also coming off a loss last Saturday to the Kent State Golden Flashes by a score of 48-38 as a seven-point road underdog and is now 2-4 (0-2 MAC) on the season.
The Bobcats have a 16-10 lead in the all-time series against Buffalo after winning the most recent matchup 21-20 on the road back in 2019.
Ohio can't hang on late in hard-fought lossAfter finally getting in the win column the previous weekend, the Bobcats had a great shot at another victory with a fourth-quarter lead over Central Michigan, but ultimately faltered in the final minutes. Armani Rogers scored the first touchdown of the game for Ohio late in the first half on a short run, and the Bobcats would go on to build a 27-20 lead early in the fourth thanks to a short scoring run by De'Montre Tuggle followed by a 40-yard touchdown from Sieh Bangura. Central Michigan got closer on a field goal just two minutes later before quickly driving down the field with 3:55 to go for the go-ahead touchdown, as Ohio went three-and-out on the next possession.
Rogers finished 13/18 passing for 190 yards while adding 15 carries for 37 yards and the touchdown. Tuggle had 19 carries for 83 yards and the score, while Cameron Odom had four receptions for 88 yards. The Bobcats just couldn't get enough stops defensively, as Central Michigan finished with a 461-369 advantage in total yards.
"I am very happy with Armani's performance today," head coach Tim Albin said to Ohio's official website. "I want to watch the film, I know it is not perfect but there are some good things to with the deep balls. We just have to find a way to make a few more plays down the stretch."
Ohio is just 2-4 against the spread this season, although it has covered in each of the last two games including an easy win over the Akron Zips. Overs are also 2-4 for the Bobcats with each of their last three games going under the betting total, as last Saturday's contest couldn't quite clear 58.5 points.
It's been a massive struggle for the Ohio offense, which is averaging just 19.3 points and 346.3 yards per game this season. Ohio's defense has only been marginally better, with opponents racking up 31.3 points and 423.6 yards per contest.
Despite not appearing last weekend, Kurtis Rourke still tends to get the most snaps in Ohio's two-quarterback rotation, having completed 74 of 113 pass attempts for 654 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while adding 86 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Tuggle has been strong out of the backfield with 70 carries for 440 yards and three touchdowns, while Odom has reeled in 16 catches for 228 yards. Cannon Blauser is the leader of the Ohio defense with 36 tackles including four for a loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Rourke's absence last game was not injury-related as the Ohio coaching staff said it was going with the hot hand, and both quarterbacks remain in the mix for Saturday. Safety Jett Elad, one of Ohio's best defensive players, is questionable for an undisclosed reason after sitting out last weekend. Offensive lineman Nick Sink and linebacker Keye Thompson are both out indefinitely with knee injuries.
Huge third quarter not enough for BuffaloThe Bulls have had some close calls against heavily favored teams this season, but remain stuck on two wins as they couldn't hang on to a second-half lead at Kent State last Saturday following a massive rally. After trailing 31-10 at the halftime break, Buffalo went off for four touchdowns in the third quarter as Kevin Marks Jr., Jake Molinich, Matt Myers and Dylan McDuffie all found the end zone in a span of 13 minutes to put Buffalo in the lead, only for Kent State to respond with two quick scores in the fourth.
.@Dustin_Crum14 ➡️ @FouLceph for the THIRD time! Flashes up 48-38 with 8:24 left in this one on @ESPNU— Kent State Football (@KentStFootball) October 10, 2021
407 through the air for Crum...186 on 13 grabs for Cephas#FlashFAST⚡️| #BeTheAlpha pic.twitter.com/2sJZrAM1iI
Kyle Vantrease struggled through the air, completing 23 of 44 passes for 229 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while adding seven rushes for 49 yards. McDuffie led the team in rushing with 87 yards and a score on 10 carries, while Marks Jr. wasn't far behind with 16 carries for 80 yards and two scores. The Bulls were outgained 633-549 and lost the turnover battle 2-0, as the defense couldn't contain Kent State's passing attack.
“I think the word for us right now, is to finish,” first-year head coach Maurice Linguist said via The Buffalo News. “I think it’s to make the plays that need to be made when the game is on the line. I think we had a lot of guys step up in the second half to put us back in that position, but it’s hard when you deal with the result of not getting what you want after you battled the way you battle."
Buffalo is now 2-3-1 against the spread, as it has fallen just short of multiple upset victories against the likes of No. 15 Coastal Carolina and Western Michigan as a big underdog. Overs are an even 3-3 for the Bulls so far after last weekend's contest went well over the betting total of 66.5 points.
The Bulls' offense has been solid enough with an average of 31.2 points and 410.7 yards per contest so far. Defense has been a different story, with opponents racking up 28.2 points and 403 yards per game.
Vantrease is still looking for more consistency, having completed 107 of 181 pass attempts for 1,172 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions while adding two scores as a scrambler. Marks Jr. leads the team with 94 carries for 368 yards and five touchdowns, while Quian Williams is on pace for a huge season with 38 catches for 551 yards and a touchdown. James Patterson is the leader of the Buffalo defense with 57 tackles including one for a loss, 0.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
Senior wide receiver Jovany Ruiz has been sidelined by a knee injury since recording seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown in the first two games of the season, and it's unclear when he might return.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While Buffalo has fallen off some from previous years, it has been competitive against a tough schedule including falling just short of upsetting an excellent Coastal Carolina team and has enough to handle lower-tier MAC opponents. This is a great opportunity for the Bulls to get their first conference win by a comfortable margin, as Ohio has been blown out by most quality opponents on its schedule including a loss to FCS Duquesne and is really struggling to move the ball.
It's going to be a massive rebuild for Ohio after longtime head coach Frank Solich retired in the offseason, as the Bobcats' average margin of defeat at 17.8 points per game with their only win coming against struggling Akron. The Bobcats aren't generating enough in the passing game to keep up with most opponents, as their two quarterbacks have combined for 6.1 yards per pass attempt to rank 111th nationally while throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns.
Buffalo's offense has been efficient despite the team's overall struggles with three different running backs going for over 300 yards through six games in addition to Vantrease's scrambling ability, and Ohio grades out as a bottom 10 rush defense this season with 5.8 yards allowed per carry. The Bulls are better than their current record shows and will be strong in the second half of the season against a lighter schedule, starting on Saturday against rebuilding Ohio.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both offenses should move the ball fairly efficiently, but the under is the pick due to the ultra-slow pace the game will be played at. Ohio has the slowest tempo in all of college football by a healthy amount at just 59 plays per game, while Buffalo doesn't rank much higher with an offense that runs the ball on the majority of its snaps.
The Bulls have some issues in the passing game themselves as Vantrease has averaged just 5.8 yards per attempt when excluding his numbers from a 69-7 destruction of FCS Wagner in the season opener. Buffalo will control this game with long methodical drives especially when it gets up double digits, and the Bulls defense will be better this Saturday against a weaker opposing offense.